LUIS CARULLA - Marketing & Commercial Director, IAAF Share PDF Print E-mail


By Tristan Mann, News Editor

Luis Carulla is the Marketing & Commercial Director for the International Association of Athletics Federations [IAAF].  He has had a long and illustrious career in the sports industry, having previously worked for the International Olympic Committee [IOC] as well as ISL where he worked with the Olympic programme. He has also worked as Head of TV Sales for TEAM marketing which has been UEFA's marketing partner for the UEFA Champions League in football since the competition was launched in 1992. He started his career as Press Attache to President Juan-Antonio Samaranch at the IOC before working for 8 years at ISL Marketing.

He has university degrees in Political Science and Law and received his MBA Degree in Marketing and International Marketing at the European University in Montreux in 1986.

Luis Carulla's isportconnect-profile-widget

How did you first become involved in the sports industry and was it an area you had always wanted to go into?

I was a student at the Université de Lausanne and one day my mother said to me, “It’s very nice to stay in university, but what can you do to help? You should become a man!”

But jokes apart, I decided I wanted to do a bit more than just go to university, and I got to know president [Juan Antonio] Saramanch at the IOC, who invited me to go and work with him, and so I started at the IOC.

Later on, I discovered sports marketing, which I instantly recognised as something I would like to do. And so I applied to ISL, and I was accpeted. So that’s how it all started.

It’s turned out to be very positive, it’s what I have been doing all my career, and what I intend to do until I retire.

How did you first start out at ISL?

At ISL I started working for their Olympic programme. It was a good match, they were building their Olympic department, they were the agency of the IOC, and therefore they were looking for people who had experience in that field. I had a legal commercial background from university and I had worked for five years at the IOC, so I was a good match.

You have extensive and wide-ranging experience in the industry, which has been the most fulfilling position you’ve held and why?

It’s a difficult question to answer. I have loved everything I have done in my career. I’ve been fortunate enough, from my point of view, not to make big mistakes when choosing new jobs. So every career move I have taken, I have enjoyed the hell out of it, and have always been involved in very interesting projects.

Every step I have taken, I have learnt so many things, and I have had the privilege to work with some of the best people in the business.

I have to say that I have enjoyed a little bit of every place I have worked. At ISL I was involved in some of the biggest projects in the world, and I had great mentors.

At TEAM marketing I was working with one of the best products you can think of, and here at the IAAF, I had the fantastic luck of being in the position when I joined, where there was nothing done, with all due respect, in terms of a marketing department.

It had to be built and it allowed me to gain experience in a lot of fields that I may not have ever been involved with if I had stayed with an agency, for example branding, research, and other things like that.

What successes are you most proud of in your career to date?

When I was at TEAM marketing I worked on the TV side of things, and I did the biggest deal I’ve ever done in my career which was with Spanish television for the rights for the Champions League.

At that time it was one of the top deals across all the deals for the Champions League. It was done in record time and it was almost too good to be true. I loved that deal because of the level of satisfaction involved.

There are a lot of other things which I am very proud of which perhaps aren’t so commercial. For example, when I joined the IAAF, I proposed that we re-branded our entire architecture. It took a year and a half and it involved a lot of people, but I am very proud of coming from an environment where I had no idea of branding, to joining the IAAF and being able to succeed in co-ordinating something like that.

Would you like to work in any other sports in particular?

I don’t know. I’m not sure I’m a good chess player in the sense that I make those kinds of plans so far in advance.

When I started working in this job, I had the privilege of being hired by the great president of the IAAF, Lamine Diack. I agreed with him on a number of agendas, and my time at the IAAF is not over yet by far, and I think right now I would just like to focus on all the important objectives with myself and the president, which of course involve a lot of other people too, rather than thinking about a specific sport or area I want to move into next.

I have the impression that unless you are very sure about only being in a specific area like sports marketing, or in a specific sport, that things come as a surprise.

To me this job came as a little bit of a surprise, but it has actually panned out to be a fantastic opportunity for me and a fantastic experience.

So, for the time being I am concentrating on the tasks ahead, and not thinking about too much else.

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+3 #3 Luis Carulla 2010-09-30 13:58
Thanks for the question Sree, in general: will conduct in 2011 our largest centralised research including for the first time 11 to 20 age category. We have developped a magazine that is now distributed in 5 markets, 'people' oriented and closer in style to a comix that to a traditional athletics magazine, called spikes, feedback has been very good, geared to youth but also to make athletics cooler, we have also tried to use new media, facebook, broadcasting our events more often on iternet. Today we announce a new deal for the UK Tv rights with Channel 4 which is arguably the number one in the UK for the 16 to 34 age categoy, and so on, we have tried to select the coolest amoung our athletes (Usain Bolt, Yelena Isnbayeva and Blanca Vlasic) and we feature them in our ads simply because their personality transcends. And so on. We recognise that we have started shortwhile ago but are progressing. Luis
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+2 #2 Sree Varma 2010-09-28 20:22
I second Sonja's comment. Luis, one question: How much do you see social media playing a part in your marketing strategy to attract young generation to the sports?
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+2 #1 Sonja Kreye 2010-09-28 11:55
Great Profile. It shows that it is worth following your interests and ideas to become successful. Thanks for the insight.
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